Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 April, 2011, 12:00am


Bashford, the man who just keeps on bouncing back

If ever you needed justification of the old adage, 'You can't keep a good man down', look no further than Ray Bashford (pictured). For the past four-and-a-half years, he was head of corporate communications and media with JP Morgan. Then a few months ago, Matthew McGrath was hired from UBS as head of marketing and communications and Bashford became head of media relations, reporting to McGrath.

Bashford evidently wasn't happy with this situation and left shortly afterwards. He re-emerged in the newly created position of chairman of Asia operations for the public relations firm Financial Dynamics.

At this point, Alastair Hetherington, managing director of Financial Dynamics for about a year, announced his resignation.

This, he assures us, was a complete coincidence and something he had been thinking of for some time. Others are not so convinced.

Some say Bashford can be quite robust in his dealings with people, but he certainly has presence.

Trouble on the cards

A disgruntled colleague has been butting heads with Standard Chartered Bank after losing his ATM card. He phoned the hotline when he realised his card was gone. The rest, he thought was history, expecting the smoothly-oiled Standard Chartered machine to swing into action. Wrong - every time he went into a Standard Chartered Bank to withdraw money, he wondered why the staff asked him if he'd like a new ATM card.

'Don't worry,' he assured them. 'It's all in hand.' But no, at Standard Chartered you have to tell them you want a new one. He then rang the hotline and after 14 minutes or so of pressing buttons, eventually got to speak to a human being.

But the process came to a grinding halt when the customer service officer found out the customer did not have a phone banking account, which meant he didn't have a password, which meant he couldn't verify his identity over the phone, which meant - you guessed it - he couldn't get an ATM card. So he's moved to plan B, which is to walk into the bank's head office and take it from there.

So much for the bank's slogan: 'Always Here'. Well, true up to a point. Feel free to tell us your banking horror stories.

Feud hits OM Holdings

The planned second listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange of manganese miner OM Holdings has hit a bit of a snag, with its largest shareholder, ASX-listed Consmin, threatening legal action to prevent the issue of shares.

Consmin is controlled by Ukrainian billionaire Gennady Bogolyubov and controls 11.4 per cent of OMH, which is also ASX-listed.

OMH appears to be controlled by a husband and wife team Low Ngee Tong and Heng Siow Kwee, who are thought to own around 17 per cent of the company. The free float is thought to be less than 10 per cent, which leaves around 60 per cent of shares in the hands of unknown investors. There has been speculation that these shares are owned by mainland interests. Bogolyubov has initiated legal action against OMH and has demanded greater transparency in the way decisions over share options, deal-making and executive salaries were being decided. The suit was suspended following agreement by the Lows to improve transparency.

However, the latest move for a second listing via the issue of 345 million shares, representing a huge dilution of the 504 million shares currently listed on the ASX, has reignited the dispute.

Bogolyubov said: 'We have had enough of the poor corporate governance and apparent lack of transparency, and you can expect us to commence legal action against the HK listing, and then take steps to remove the current directors.'

All this seems a bit of a tall order with only 11.4 per cent of the stock, but Bogolyubov is nothing if not combative.

Cheques and balances

The UK House of Commons Treasury Committee will reopen an inquiry about banks' planned abolition of cheques by 2018, Bloomberg reported yesterday.

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative politician heading the panel, said it had been inundated by letters from the public saying they relied on cheques. 'Many charities, small business and vulnerable people - including pensioners - depend on cheques,' he said. 'They should not be forced into shredding their cheque books.'

All well and good, but given the parlous state of Britain's finances, its inability to reform the National Health Service, its disturbing habit of firing frontline soldiers when they're actually under fire and its fragile coalition, perhaps the health of the exchequer is more important than the future of the cheque.